Our third class was devoted to exploring random processes through random walks. Many physical processes in nature – diffusion, radiation, conduction, current flow, fluid dynamics – can be modeled as a random process. This is certainly true at the quantum mechanical level, where there is inherent uncertainty in the position-momentum of a particle due to its wave-like nature (modeled as a probability wave function); this is Planck’s Uncertainty Principle. But even in “deterministic” classical mechanics, randomness plays a role in modeling complexity; it is simply too hard to measure the precise state of every particle in a system and all of the forces involved. This is where statistical mechanics and thermodynamics become important.
Our first class was based on the idea that physical quantities and the relationships between them (equations) can be represented in physical movement, as well as in symbolic form. This is based on some of Prof. Burgasser’s work exploring physical communication of physical concepts, which itself is rooted in research showing that we learn when we use our bodies.